Victoria Andrews, 26, was shocked to learn she was pregnant after doctors told her she was infertile due to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. But in May, she gave birth to a baby boy called Tobias.
To cope with being told that she wouldn’t have her own children, she started collecting dolls and at its peak she had over 100 dolls known as ‘reborns’. However, she sold 40 of them for £10,000 to buy necessities for Toby.
And while Victoria, from Newbury, Berkshire, sold many of them, Toby still has around 40 ‘brothers and sisters’. She’s even created one just like Toby, weighing 7lbs 2ozs – his weight when he was born – and who is wearing the same clothes he wore when he left hospital. It’s even called Tobias. Victoria said: ‘I couldn’t believe it when I found out I was pregnant.
‘Obviously I love babies. I just thought I would only ever have the doll variety. ‘I was smitten with Toby right away. He’s got my eyes and my ‘bum’ chin. I haven’t even picked up a doll since he was born.’
Victoria learned she was pregnant when she went to the doctor after weeks of what she thought was a stomach ulcer. She said: ‘My blood tests came back. The doctor talked to me for a few minutes and then said “congratulations by the way, you’re at least seven weeks pregnant.”‘ The barmaid still didn’t believe it – so she paid for a private scan and saw him for the first time.
Last year Victoria took a drug to halt the facial hair growth polycystic ovary sufferers often have, and believes this is what caused a spike in her fertility. Victoria said: ‘I’d tried so many different things in the past that hadn’t worked it didn’t really occur to me that this one might. I wasn’t even taking it for my fertility. ‘Me and my partner at the time didn’t use protection – there was no need. ‘We split up before I even knew I was pregnant because I found out he was cheating. ‘Now he doesn’t want anything to do with the baby. It’s massively his loss – Toby is absolutely amazing.’
Although she has always buys and the sells the dolls in order to upgrade to better versions, she no longer has time to pay attention to the 40 she still has left. Victoria said: ‘Some of the ladies in the doll community take their collections quite seriously. They with feed and bathe their dolls and put them into pyjamas at night. ‘I mostly keep mine on a shelf. ‘Sometimes, before I had Toby, I would pick them up for a cuddle if I was feeling down. It’s really soothing. ‘But now I’ve got him I don’t need to do that. I don’t have time. I haven’t even picked one up since Toby came along. ‘I’ve kept my favourites though. Some of the best ones I paid £1,500 for.’
Victoria and Toby live at home with her bar manager mum Jane, 56, and gardener dad Dirk, 64. Victoria plans to keep her collection – and maybe even add to it when she goes back to work as a barmaid. She said: ‘I still love them. Not in the way I love Toby, of course. ‘I’d love to have more kids one day. Maybe four. For now I joke that I’ve got 41.